Fracture healing in mice lacking Pten in osteoblasts: a micro-computed tomography image-based analysis of the mechanical properties of the femur

J Biomech. 2015 Jan 21;48(2):310-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jbiomech.2014.11.028. Epub 2014 Nov 28.


In the United States, approximately eight million osseous fractures are reported annually, of which 5-10% fail to create a bony union. Osteoblast-specific deletion of the gene Pten in mice has been found to stimulate bone growth and accelerate fracture healing. Healing rates at four weeks increased in femurs from Pten osteoblast conditional knock-out mice (Pten-CKO) compared to wild-type mice (WT) of the same genetic strain as measured by an increase in mechanical stiffness and failure load in four-point bending tests. Preceding mechanical testing, each femur was imaged using a Skyscan 1172 micro-computed tomography (μCT) scanner (Skyscan, Kontich, Belgium). The present study used µCT image-based analysis to test the hypothesis that the increased femoral fracture force and stiffness in Pten-CKO were due to greater section properties with the same effective material properties as that of the WT. The second moment of area and section modulus were computed in ImageJ 1.46 (National Institutes of Health) and used to predict the effective flexural modulus and the stress at failure for fourteen pairs of intact and callus WT and twelve pairs of intact and callus Pten-CKO femurs. For callus and intact femurs, the failure stress and tissue mineral density of the Pten-CKO and WT were not different; however, the section properties of the Pten-CKO were more than twice as large 28 days post-fracture. It was therefore concluded, when the gene Pten was conditionally knocked-out in osteoblasts, the resulting increased bending stiffness and force to fracture were due to increased section properties.

Keywords: Four-point bend testing; Fracture healing; Mechanical properties; Micro computed tomography image-based analysis; Mouse femur; Pten gene; Section properties.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomechanical Phenomena
  • Bone Density
  • Bony Callus / metabolism
  • Femoral Fractures / diagnostic imaging*
  • Femoral Fractures / metabolism
  • Femoral Fractures / pathology
  • Femoral Fractures / physiopathology
  • Femur / diagnostic imaging*
  • Femur / metabolism
  • Femur / pathology
  • Femur / physiopathology
  • Fracture Healing*
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Mechanical Phenomena*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Organ Size
  • Osteoblasts / metabolism*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / deficiency*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • X-Ray Microtomography*


  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase